Sunday, September 29, 2013

Birding in Ohio

This past Thursday and Friday, I spent time in Ohio dealing with an urgent family matter. To pass the time when I had nothing else to do, I decided to hit a couple spots to bird. First spot was Phillips Park in Beavercreek, where I met up with a friend and spent three hours walking short, mowed trails through trees and brush field/marsh areas.

I arrived at 8:15 A.M. to be greeted by three Mallards, a drake and two hens, who then proceeded to follow me around the front of the park near the pond. I sat in the gazebo and they came over and foraged in front of me, waiting on me to make it easier on them to find breakfast. I watched the pond and the trees surrounding, while waiting on my friend. Saw mostly city birds: Starlings, Cardinals, House Sparrows, a Mourning Dove, Robins, and a few Blue Jays. Then a flock of birds perched high in one of the trees, and looking through my binoculars, I watched some Cedar Waxwings hopping around in the branches. A short time later, my friend pulled in and we hit the trails.

Birds were plentiful this fine fall morning. Chipping and chirping filled the air around us. At our first stop, mostly we saw Tufted Titmice dancing through the trees, about six which seemed to be following us on our walk. It took another fifty feet or so to find the next cluster of birds, which so happened to be a few species of warblers- notably Tennessee and Magnolia. Throughout our walk we would also find Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Cape May, and plenty of Common Yellowthroats.

(My eBird checklist )

It was a nice morning walk, catching up, laughing, and watching birds. Nothing is better than getting to share a passion with another person, that not too many people you know share. We walked about two miles, tallied up our sightings (over 40 species), and said our goodbyes. My next stop would be Pickerington Ponds right outside of Columbus.

Drive drive drive. I'd already spent about 8 hours on the road, plus the three hours hiking... I was getting kind of tired, but I don't get to bird a ton on my trips to Ohio and this day, I had plenty of free time. I arrived at Pickerington Ponds around 2 P.M. Water levels were super low, which made for plenty of shorebirds. Egrets, Herons, and several waterfowl were hanging around the Wood Duck trail area. I had to hike through the tall weeds to get closer, but with my binoculars, I was able to identify a Baird's Sandpiper, and a Western Sandpiper- both new birds for my Ohio list this year! I didn't spend much time at the Ponds because I had to get out to the Cambridge area to see my daughters.

Pickerington Ponds Checklist

I would spend the evening in Cambridge, and the next morning, make my trek over to Salt Fork State Park.

The fog was heavy around the lake. I drove clear back to the dog area, parked my van, and watched through the fog and was able to pick out a Greater Yellowlegs through the fog. I couldn't see much else (even though I could hear it)... and I knew I was just going to have to wait for the fog to lift. It only took about thirty minutes. That's when my checklist exploded with species. This was an open area, full of sparrows. White-throated, Song, Vesper, Savannah, and Lincoln's. Watched two Palm Warblers flying from the ground, up onto the fence, and back down again. The beach had a bunch of my gulls walking around. (My gulls are Ring-billed Gulls... I call them my gulls after a friend affectionately deemed them to be "Amber's Gulls") Ospreys soared over Salt Fork Lake, and Killdeer ran the shoreline. I spent a couple hours walking, and driving, through the park and got several other species.

Salt Fork Checklist

All-in-all, though the family issues made the trip somewhat somber, I was glad to see a dear friend and get to bird while I was up there.

Until next time....
Happy birding to all of you!